As we continue to use Mother Nature’s resources to create delicious food, it is important to give back to her. Organic Valley is aiming to do just this, recently announcing the implementation of two riparian restoration projects on two of its Sonoma County farms. Roughly two acres each, the projects will provide ecological restoration of riparian areas (i.e., streambanks and spring areas) on their respective properties.
Such projects that restore land and sequester carbon from the atmosphere are called "carbon farming" projects, according to a press release. Together, these projects have the potential to store 40 metric tons of carbon within their first five years.
"You plant the 'seed' somewhere and it will grow—we have additional farmers signed up for Climate Smart Farm Planning plans in Sonoma County just because these two farmers did it," said Jessica Luhning, Sustainability Manager at Organic Valley. "Across the U.S., interest in carbon farm planning in our cooperative continues to grow."
The first restoration started in December 2018 on the McClelland dairy farm in Petaluma, California, on two acres of designated land near Stemple Creek. Over 150 students and teachers (approximately five classes) of the Students and Teachers Restoring a Watershed (STRAW) program planted 90 individual plants consisting of 12 species of native trees and shrubs, including Coast live oak, Oregon ash, California blackberry, and coffeeberry.
The second phase will begin in summer 2020, when STRAW will install irrigation systems on both farms. After the school year, STRAW staff will monitor and maintain the projects for one to two years. This project will help prevent erosion, maintain water quality, provide habitat for wildlife, and preserve the health of the entire ecosystem.
The second restoration started earlier this year on the Bordessa farm, Ocean Breeze Dairy, in Valley Ford, California.
Jarrid Bordessa, Ocean Breeze Dairy Owner, said, "I wanted to implement the practices that the Organic Valley sustainability team was talking about and see what would happen on my farm.”
At the beginning of 2020, an estimated 14 classrooms consisting of 14 teachers, 350 students, and 60 volunteers participated in the Ebabias Creek restoration project. The volunteers planted almost 700 native species during the first phase of the project.
"It's important to take care of the land, water, and air we breathe. Every little bit that we can all do contributes to having a healthier earth," added Jana McClelland, McClelland Dairy Owner.
The second phase will begin in early spring, when STRAW will install an irrigation system.
Mother Nature has given us all so much, so stay tuned for more inspiring industry initiatives.